Sports and marijuana have been in the news a lot lately, and not for the reasons that sports and cannabis used to be in the news. For a very long time the only articles you would see in the media about sports and cannabis was an athlete getting caught with marijuana. That was usually accompanied by a full blown freak out session by the same media out, as if cannabis use in sports was the worst thing that could possibly happen.
The recent media coverage has been much more constructive and positive. More and more former athletes are coming out of the 'cannabis closet.' It seems like almost every week another retired athlete comes out in support of reform in one way or another. A lot of it is medical marijuana focused, and for good reason. Competing as an athlete at an elite level for a living takes its toll on the human body. Some sports are more taxing than others, but even non-contact sports result in a lot of wear and tear on the body.
Former athletes like NFL players Kyle Turley, Jim McMahon, Jake Plummer, Ricky Williams, and Nate Jackson, and former NBA players like Cliff Robinson, Jay Williams have made a lot of headlines recently pushing for medical cannabis as a substitute for harmful pharmaceutical painkillers. Studies have shown that medical cannabis can be a an effective treatment for brain injuries, which is a major problem in professional sports. That alone should warrant a serious look by professional sports leagues.
Also catching big headlines lately is current NFL player Eugene Monroe. Eugene Monroe has been calling for more research on medical cannabis in the NFL, and made a sizeable donation to marijuana research. I have written about Mr. Monroe lately because I find his story to be particularly interesting being that he's a current player. That takes a lot of courage. As a former athlete, the days of being subjected to random drug tests are in the past. But for a current player, the 'random' drug test is a very real thing. I would imagine Eugene Monroe has some 'random' drug tests lined up by the league after his comments.
Eugene Monroe has every right to demand more medical cannabis research and how it can be used to treat sports related injuries. I assume he reads the media articles like everyone else involving players that have wrecked bodies and ferocious addiction problems. No one should have to live like that, not if there's a better way. Science and compassion should be driving professional sports' treatment policies, not politics. That's the message that current players need to be pushing right now.
But because current players are subjected to such treatment is why it's so vital that they be the ones to speak the loudest. That of course means that they can't be consuming cannabis in order to pass the 'random' drug tests that will occur relentlessly throughout the season I'm sure. But just because a player can't consume cannabis doesn't mean they shouldn't be pushing for reform in the the league that they play in. Players should put their health above all, and should be demanding that they be allowed to use proven, safe treatments if they so choose. That should be true of anything, not just cannabis.
Current athletes pushing for reform is powerful, because when people hear their stories they will be hearing from someone that is looking forwards, not backwards. That's not to take away from former athletes, because their stories are powerful too, but current players can push the envelope a bit more being that they are still going to be competing. Current players still 'have the stage' so to speak, and can push their message in a way that retired players can't. That's why I've followed Eugene Monroe so closely and will continue to do so.
I've been writing more lately about cannabis and sports, and one line of reasoning that I see people throw out a lot is 'these people signed up to be professional athletes, so they should just have to deal with it.' Yes, athletes choose to play the sport that they do for a living. And yes, a lot of them get paid quite handsomely. But that doesn't mean that they should be forced to needlessly suffer. There are a lot of professions that get paid a lot of money, yet people that choose those other professions aren't treated with such little compassion. Imagine if high paid politicians were subjected to the same treatment?
Current players need to know that they are not alone in their fight for reform. Poll after poll has shown that a majority of Americans approve of marijuana reform. More and more sports fans are finding out how much cannabis can help treat injuries, that there are no side effects, and use won't result in a lifelong battle with addiction like pharmaceutical painkillers. The more awareness takes hold, the more support will build.
The time is now for more current athletes to join players like Eugene Monroe in calling for research and reform. I know, it's easy for me to say, as I'm not the one going to be given a 'random' drug test each time I hit the locker room. But I also am looking at things from 'outside of the fishbowl,' and I know that there will be overwhelming support for players that come forward. I have also talked to former NBA All Star Cliff Robinson, and specifically asked him if he would be willing to mentor any current athlete that needed guidance on the issue, and he said he would absolutely be up to it. Current players need to unite behind this issue and start pushing for it.
If current athletes need any help, the reform community is absolutely here at any time. We are always willing to help develop a message and strategy, and to help spread awareness. Cannabis should not be a taboo subject in professional sports. If players can consume as much alcohol as they want and get pharmaceuticals pushed on them every time they turn around, they should be able to make the safer choice. I haven't seen polling among players, I'd imagine because it's a subject many are scared to talk about at all, but I'd imagine an anonymous poll would find HUGE support for reform. I don't know how many athletes read this blog (I'm told there are at least a few), but if you are, join Eugene Monroe and STAND UP AND BE HEARD!